The Stonebridge B40CM: cool and unique.
The unique positioning of the soundhole greatly reduces feedback.
It wasn't so long ago that acoustic-bodied bass guitars were really hard to find, and when you did you could expect to part with a small fortune for a good brand.
However, thanks mainly to a huge surge in interest, these rather specialist instruments can be found quite readily and, more importantly, at many different price points.
This Stonebridge is by no means an example of the budget, entry-level models on the market, but thanks to the UK distributer's direct dealings with the manufacturer in the Czech Republic, things are still looking very promising on the value for money front.
Although Frantisek Furch is well respected within the guitar community, his work is not so well known in bass circles.
However, the B40CM acoustic bass could well change all that. Adopting the designation of Stonebridge (the original name of the Charles bridge in Prague), Furch has set out to provide bass players with something to whet the appetite.
In keeping with the physical nature of a bass this is a generously proportioned instrument that accommodates a full 34-inch scale length.
But what makes it stand out is the curious positioning of the somewhat triangular soundhole. We like the 'bite' taken out of the headstock and this features a set of Furch sealed tuners.
There are no controls whatsoever and with a Fishman under-saddle pickup fitted, the only clue that it is indeed capable of connecting to an amplifier is the endpin jack socket.
The top is solid cedar; the five-ply back, sides and neck are all made from mahogany and the fingerboard is rosewood. The satin finish not only gives these woods a really natural look, it also assists the beautifully natural sounds.
This bass is pretty big to handle - although we can think of larger examples - but it's very light in weight and offers a surprisingly comfortable playing position when placed on your knee.
The full scale can feel a bit of a stretch, and should you wish to stand then you'll need to fit a second strap button to the heel of the neck, which is no big deal - perhaps this addition could be a thought for the manufacturer in the future.
It's the large volume of body that provides this very organic feeling bass with such an incredible tone. The sheer depth and presence that emanates from each note can't fail to bring a smile to your face and a rumbling in your stomach.
It really does make you feel every note! And where having no controls would be seen as a huge disadvantage on a solid-bodied bass, having none on an acoustic bass is actually an advantage - providing that the guitar has a good sound.
This one certainly has that and this lack of controls allows the natural sound to be heard in all its glory. However you set your amp there is no way you can destroy the acoustic nature of this bass.
The sound is huge, warm and voluptuous with a good degree of thump when you dig in a bit more. The positioning of the soundhole really proves its worth when plugging this bass into an amp as it helps enormously in the reduction of the feedback problems associated with this type of instrument.
And from a purely practical point of view, without the strings passing over the soundhole, accessing the battery (housed within a Velcro sealed bag just inside) proves particularly easy.
It's certainly good news that the interest in acoustic-bodied bass guitars has continued to flourish as these instruments offer the mid ground between a traditional, upright bass and a regular bass guitar.
As such they have a unique voice, but this Stonebridge model in particular owes more to an upright in sound quality than it does to an electric bass thanks to this absence of sophisticated preamps.
If you want sound versatility then this is not for you, but if you want a bass with a full bodied natural tone that won't be overly coloured when put through an amplifier then you really should check this Stonebridge out.